InterviewFinTech Interview with Roy Ng, CEO, and Co-founder, Bond

FTB News Desk FTB News DeskSeptember 8, 202225 min

Roy Ng shares his idea of financial inclusion and why are secured credit cards so important for consumers along with some recent developments at Bond.

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Roy Ng, CEO and co-founder of Bond

Roy Ng is Co-Founder & CEO of Bond, an enterprise-grade financial technology platform streamlining the integration between brands and banks, enabling brands to better engage their customers by offering personalized and compliant banking products. Roy was previously President & COO of Mapbox, the leading location platform for developers, responsible for customer facing and revenue operations, as well as finance and HR. Prior to Mapbox, Roy was COO at Twilio, where he led commercial operations, responsible for global sales, account management and customer success, corporate development and partnerships, strategy and business operations. He also led the marketing and HR teams, and was instrumental in driving the company's $150M IPO. Prior to Twilio, Roy was Senior Vice President & COO for SAP's Cloud Business Unit. He joined SAP through SAP's $3.4 billion acquisition of SuccessFactors, where Roy was Vice President of Global Business Operations. Prior to his operating roles, Roy was Vice President and Head of West Coast Software Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs. He built and led the firm’s rapidly growing Software-as-a-Service franchise and completed over $23 billion of M&A and financing transactions for clients in the technology, media and telecom industries globally.

1. Can you share a quick overview of your background before Bond?

After graduating from U.C. Berkeley in 2000, I started my career as a banker at Goldman Sachs, initially based in Hong Kong for five years. I then relocated to San Francisco to build the West Coast Software Investment Banking. I spent the next four years leading the firm’s Software-as-a-Service franchise and completed over $23 billion of M&A and financing transactions for clients in the technology, media and telecom industries globally.

I left Goldman to join one of my clients – SuccessFactors, a talent management enterprise SaaS provider – to run business operations. SuccessFactors became one of the fastest growing enterprise software companies and was sold to SAP in 2012 for $3.4B, the highest revenue multiple paid for a software acquisition at that time. I then joined Twilio as COO, where I built and scaled sales, marketing, customer success and all go-to-market functions, and took the company through its IPO. From there, I served as President & COO of Mapbox, a developer platform for mapping and location.

2. What led you to co-found Bond in 2019?

Co-founding Bond and working in fintech was a natural step for me.. Bond’s overarching goal of banking the underbanked ties to lessons I learned as a child about the importance of having a financial foundation for building a life, especially in the U.S.

In 1988 when I was 10 years old, I emigrated with my mother to the suburbs of Los Angeles from Hong Kong. My father stayed behind for a year to wrap up their old life. One of the first commandments of thriving in America — according to relatives, new friends and neighbors — was to establish good credit. There were lots of ways to begin a banking relationship, but the barriers to entry were numerous and much of it was bewildering to a 10-year-old immigrant family CFO.

I remember walking with my mother into Sears, where we found all the big ticket items we’d need — the basics, a refrigerator and the washer-dryer, plus what we never had in Hong Kong, a lawn mower and a barbecue grill! When the cashier asked if we had a Sears card, we shook our heads, no, we did not. And did we want to open an account? I nudged my mother and she nodded. Yes, we certainly did.

3. What gets you excited about embedded finance?

Nothing gets me more excited than partnering with innovative companies like Cledara, Qoins and Squire to enable them to bring core financial services directly to their users and customers.

In fact, new research shows that people want to consume financial services as part of their daily lives from their favorite brands. Bond hired Cornerstone Advisors to survey more than 2,500 consumers to find out exactly what types of embedded financial products they are most interested in.
Nearly 8 in 10 (79%) of gamers are interested in a credit card that will reward them for in-game purchases
Two-thirds of home fitness fans expressed interest in health insurance from home fitness providers with rates based on their personal fitness habits.
Nearly two-thirds of fashion aficionados would consider getting an investment account from a luxury brand that allowed them to easily invest in that company’s stock, crypto and other assets.

In fact, 64% of both Gen Z and Millennials, and 60% of Gen Xers, are interested in accessing an average of 15 different financial products from brands compared with just 42% of Boomers. The potential brand winners vary by category but include Amazon, Apple, Chanel, Chevrolet, Coach, CVS, Fitbit, Ford, Gucci, The Home Depot and Walgreens.

4. Could you share some of your recent developments at Bond, including a new secured credit card solution for brands? Why are secured credit cards so important for consumers?

Launched on August 18, Bond’s new Credit Builder Card solution makes it simpler for fintechs and brands to offer secured credit cards to their customers. Our Credit Builder Card is powered by the Mastercard network and issued by Bond sponsor bank, Evolve Bank & Trust.

I am so excited and passionate about secured credit cards because they offer a financial lifeline for underbanked and unbanked populations, and it’s never been more important than now, when we are facing a tumultuous macroeconomic environment, skyrocketing inflation and a looming recession. Secured credit cards give consumers the ability to spend only funds they have with the added benefits of building a credit history that can help credit-challenged consumers take control of their financial futures.

Many people do not realize that in the United States, over 150 million individuals are considered financially at-risk, according to Experian and U.S. Census data. Nearly one-third of U.S. consumers have a subprime credit score (defined as 580 to 669), including 40% of millennials, who make up “the highest ratio of subprime consumers of any generation,” according to Experian. Additionally, an estimated 49 million U.S. consumers are classified as either “credit invisible” or “unscorable.”

Secured credit cards allow consumers to develop a credit history which may enable them to secure mortgages, auto loans, and other financial services at better rates. In partnership with Bloom Credit, payments made with Bond’s Credit Builder Card will be reported to the credit agencies just like with a traditional credit card, which can help consumers establish and improve their FICO® Score, which 90% of lenders use to evaluate a person’s credit risk.

5. What sets Bond apart from other companies in the embedded finance space?

Most banking-as-a-service vendors use a single banking partner and one third-party vendor (e.g., a processor) to launch a card program, locking customers into brittle arrangements that pose a high risk to financial programs. Bond is built to support a marketplace of banks and technology vendors, enabling incredible customization capabilities so brands can launch tailor-made financial products for their clients while dramatically lowering risk.

This approach has enabled Bond to keep innovating and offering breakthrough new products that the market is seeking. For instance, Bond is the only full-stack embedded finance platform in the market enabling our customers to offer secured consumer credit cards via a single platform.

6. What does financial inclusion mean to you?
In a nutshell, financial inclusion means that everyone should have access to basic banking services. Banking services that enable them to buy food, finance a car, take on a student loan, basically live their daily lives to their fullest potential. Banks as for profit institutions understandably want to serve the most profitable segments of the population, leaving many with suboptimal banking services or charged with high fees. The promise of fintech enables innovators to address segments of the population that is underserved, and embedding financial services experiences to where people live, work and play everyday.

Financial services becomes a means to an end, and embedded financial services enable people and businesses to meet their goals.

7. Where is embedded finance heading in the next year?
We expect to see a new wave of low/no-code credit card solutions come to market. These solutions will be geared for line of business users and non-technical audiences, allowing brands to issue their employees and partners a corporate credit card with minimal coding, API integration or support from engineers.

8. Bond was shortlisted as one of the “best workplaces for innovators” in the small company category by Fast Company. Can you share what makes the culture at Bond so special?

I love this question because Bond’s success is due to our amazing team, and the contributions that everyone makes across the company.

Bond enables customers to build incredibly personalized apps that integrate innovative software experiences with financial services. People have very personal and intimate relationships with their money; the only way to build a platform that enables our customers to build this is to build a diverse team with different backgrounds and points of views. From there, the culture needs to support empowerment and the ability for staff to spread their wings, and take charge of their destiny.

For instance, as the Bond team grew throughout the pandemic, the number of women tripled and the ERG (Employee Resource Group), Women of Bond, was formed. There was both a need and a desire for women to get to know other women in our company as the pandemic had dispersed them across the country — making it impossible to bump into one another in the breakroom.

The Women of Bond created their own Speaker Series that Bond hosts once a month. It is a company-supported, safe space where women can ask the tougher questions without other eyes or ears around. Women of Bond was cited as a lifeline by many employees during the pandemic. It fostered a sense of sisterhood and allowed people to vent in a safe space. That resulted in high retention rates and many women referring friends and colleagues into Bond.

I am proud of the culture of empowerment we have created at Bond, and it’s an area of ongoing focus to keep it thriving and keep improving.

9. What keeps you motivated each day?

I have two young kids – one about to turn 3, and the other is 15 months. What motivates me everyday is that our next generation will have better access to quality financial services: when my kids and their peers are grown up, they will have more relevant financial services that enable everyone to have the opportunity to succeed, and that fintech platforms such as Bond can help us level the playing field for all.

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FTB News Desk

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